Review: THE FACELESS OLD WOMAN WHO SECRETLY LIVES IN YOUR HOME by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor (2020)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult paranormal
Year Release: 2020
Source: Library audiobook

Listened to the audiobook

Of the three Welcome to Night Vale books so far,  this book is the furthest from the spirit of the podcast in the best way. We get a full a thorough backstory on an iconic and terrifying character, The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home.

If you’re expecting the regular eerieness of the desert town, you won’t find any here. Instead, you’ll be in fictional and real countries all across Europe on a swashbuckling adventure of crime and vengeance. It’s a lot of fun to watch the different and intricate plots play out as the (Not Yet) Faceless Old Woman tries to get revenge on the man who killed her father. The twists are something out of a classic like The Count of Monte Cristo or a Shakespeare play.

There are flashbacks to the present, where she terrorizes a man named Craig. The second person perspective in these snippets are effective and instill in readers a genuine fear of our protagonist.

An entire book dedicated to a backstory which had me enraptured from start to finish.

ARC Review: THE FIERY CROWN (Forgotten Empires #2) by Jeffe Kennedy (2020)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Fantasy Romance
Year Release: May 2020
Source: NetGalley eARC
Buy links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books | Barnes and Noble

Read an ARC granted through NetGalley

When we last left Con and Lia, these two had gone from rivals to spouses, and this dynamic continuous throughout this sequel to The Orchid Throne.

Anure is still a big problem, but most of the political tensions in this fantasy stem from Con and Lia’s fundamental mistrust of each other. They are, after all, in a marriage of opportunity, rather than convenience. This especially comes to a head when they both learn that those in their  inner circles also can’t be trusted. At least these reluctant spouses can trust in their own political selfishness and it works so well.

I also really like the growth journey Lia went through. She’s not only a badass in that way where she’s a stern, but just leader. The entire last quarter of the book has her going through some shit. She shifts from defensive to offensive, especially when it’s shown just how monstrous the false emperor can be.

In addition, I absolutely cannot wait to see how the truth about Calanthe, the tropical paradise island, comes to fruition.

Review: IT DEVOURS! by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor (2017)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult paranormal
Year Release: 2017
Source: Library audiobook

Listened to the audiobook

It was to return to the world of Night Vale, even if just one contained arc of a story. In the desert town of Night Vale, various rumblings might actually be the work of the Smiling God. A tale of science and religion in a race against time to stop Night Vale’s certain demise.

As mentioned above, this book feels far more self-contained than the first. There is little, if anything, you need to know about the lore of Night Vale to get into this book. However, you may want to read the first to get context for some of the characters. Largely these reintroductions worked on their own.

The romance between Nilanjana and Darryl worked really well to both drive the plot forward and show different facets of folks at Night Vale. Nilanjana had not even considered her a citizen, while Darryl seemed to be more established. The tension between logic and belief played a big role, but true to Night Vale’s form, enough strangeness goes on that defies either line of thinking.

Joyfully (and unsettingly), it devours.

ARC Review: THE UNCONQUERED CITY (Chronicles of Ghadid #3) by K.A. Doore (2020)

Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Adult LGBT+ Fantasy
Year Release: June 2020
Source: NetGalley eARC
Buy links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books | Barnes and Noble

Read an ARC granted through NetGalley

The Chronicles of Ghadid comes to a close with an epic story of community mourning, healing, and recovery as Illi is tasked with going away to Hathage get rid of the sajaami which is preventing all other restless spirits from passing on. There’s an f/enby romance, the lesbians are back, and all that assassination goodness we’ve come to love.

The guul continue to be the absolutely scariest things, but I really loved how Doore gave everyone–from cousin to captain to guard to marab–the agency and ability to face them. The fear was still there but it wasn’t insurmountable, especially as the threat takes over all those living in the Wastes.

Though this book introduces a third narrator, there are so many call-backs to the first book and dealing with the consequences of The Impossible Contract that make those necessary reads. The reader leans about the terrifying creatures at the same pace the characters do. Such a slow burn of conveying information is hard to pull off, and yet Doore has mastered it.

The romance between Illi and Canthem was such a delight. There was only one caravan! Their flirtations were so on point (who doesn’t love throwing knives and training sequences as a vehicle for chemistry). More over, I really liked how that relationship and others (namely between Illi and Heru) played a major role in the finale and the emotional arc of The Chronicles of Ghadid as a whole. No person is an island and the theme of community coming together for mutually assured survival was so good throughout.

A fabulous end to a wonderful queernorm trilogy about found family and community coming together to solve a major undead problem.

Review: SILVER IN THE WOOD by Emily Tesh (2019)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2019
Source: My own hard copy

This romance between a four-hundred-year-old forest being and the twenty-three-year-old proprietor is as lush as a primordial forest. The imagery was lovely, as soft as moss. There isn’t too much more I can say without giving away the whole story, but if you also want revenants and evil ex-boyfriends, Greenhollow is the place for you.

This book also features a formidable mom, a very good cat, and an angry dryad.

Review: LADY HOTSPUR by Tessa Gratton (2020)

Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2020
Source: Library audiobook

Listened to the audiobook

I very quickly returned to Tessa Gratton’s Shakespeare retellings with this queer take on Henry IV (which of course, I have not read). In this companion to Queens of Innis Lear, we follow the exploits of Lady Hotspur, Prince Hal, and Banna Mora as they seek to bring political peace to Eremoria and reunite with the magic of Innis Lear.

This book is so deeply character-driven. No political decision had been made without the influence of any of the characters, which made the love story between Lady Hotspur and Prince Hal that much more compelling. I love how authentically messy and ambitious all the POV characters were. They didn’t feel like pawns to destiny, and instead had their own loves and conflicts. The familial relations especially in Prince Hal’s story line really resonated with me.

With regards to the political world-building, the tension between tradition in an otherwise queernorm world soaked through the pages. The examination was so fascinating, and in many places, made the book un-put-down-able because it didn’t have to end in a way defined by bloody history. Figures from Queens of Innis Lear do return in the form of flashbacks, but there is absolutely no requirement to read that book to understand this one.

If you want a book full of disaster queers, including sword lesbians and bisexual wizards, magic, and destiny, definitely pick up Lady Hotspur.

 

ARC Review: OUT OF BODY by Jeffrey Ford (2020)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Horror Novella
Year Release: May 2020
Source: Physical ARC

Read an ARC given to me by the publisher

Librarians sure are having a time in the spotlight in recent months. In this horror, a librarian witnesses a murder during an attempted robbery which comes with a side effect of being able to wander the night as a sleeper while his flesh remains at home.

I really liked the depiction and use of sleep paralysis in this one. Trauma can have different effects on an individual and Ford found a great way to make sleep come with a veneer of control. Melody, his tutor, had also been great as a mentor character without seeming too omniscient on the exact workings of being a sleeper. The book didn’t go too heavily into the machinations and lore, but at under 200 pages, there was enough established about the sleeper experience that it ultimately didn’t matter. In addition, it was a nice touch that the main character served as a side kick to the hunts in motion, as opposed to becoming preternaturally good at being a sleeper.

A quick eerie read about a librarian with sleep paralysis who’s in over his head when it leads to out-of-body experiences and monsters. Perfect for readers who want to revisit Scott Westerfeld’s Midnighters for a moment.